Winnipeg's Blake Wheeler scored a hat trick in the first period of Sunday's clash with Pittsburgh to lead the Jets to a dominating win.
There's fast starts, and then there's what Winnipeg Jets got off to on Sunday in a 7–1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, racking up five goals in a record-setting first period with three coming off the stick of Blake Wheeler.
Andrew Copp opened the scoring at 1:20 of the first, flicking a snap shot from the slot past Penguins starter Matt Murray. Wheeler added a second at 13:58 of the period, sliding Mark Scheifele's 2-on-1 pass under Murray. Just a few minutes later, the floodgates opened, starting with Wheeler's second of the period at 17:44. Joel Armia followed suit just 23 seconds later, ending Murray's night, and Wheeler welcomed backup goalie Casey DeSmith, in his first moments in an NHL game, with another tally at 18:18 of the period. The three goals in :34 bested the old franchise record by 24 seconds.
Wheeler's three goals, Nos. 2–4 for the winger, were scored in just 4:20, the fastest hat trick in Winnipeg/Atlanta history. It was also the first first-period hat trick for the team, as well as the first one against Pittsburgh since Ilya Kovalchuk in 2006, during the team's Atlanta days. He also added a third-period assist on Scheifele's fourth of the season, ending his night with four points.
Brendan Lemieux tallied the final goal for the Jets in the third period, the first NHL score of his career.
The Jets improved to 5-3-2 on the heels of their highest-scoring output of the season.
Evgent Malkin got the Penguins on the board in the second period with a power play marker that puts him seventh all-time among Russian-born players with 122.
For the Penguins, it's the second time this season they've given up five goals in a single period—they also did so against the Blackhawks in a 10–1 loss on Oct. 5. Sunday's game is the team's fourth back-to-back effort on the season, and they've been outscored in the second leg of those matchups 29–7, including the loss to Chicago on the second day of the season. Unsurprisingly, the team is now 0–4 in those games and sits at 7-5-1 on the season.